2020 was an interesting year for everyone to say the least. Across the globe we saw some very harsh realities, we witnessed a horrible pandemic that felt more like the start of a sci-fi zombie flick then it did reality, we saw horrific stories and videos of how black people are still being treated poorly in comparison to us, deaths were on the rise, we were locked away in our homes for long periods. It was definitely a year I would call different.
2020 as a whole most of us will be glad to see the back of and mark it as one of the ‘worst years ever’, it has been very hard to witness much positivity throughout the year. But I decided a couple of weeks ago to sit back and think about all the things that I can take away from this year in a positive way. So I decided as it’s the year 2020 I would come up with 20 things I learned from this year to make it a tad more bearable… not all of them are complete positives but genuine lessons all the same.
I’m aware I probably won’t be the only one who does this, but I thought it would be a good expression point for me so here goes:
1. Covid is not a permanent thing but for some people this way of life is.
Earlier this year, I purchased a film called “Five Feet Apart”, mainly because I saw it had Cole Sprouse in but also I thought the title seemed quite on-point with a lot of what we were going through with the early stages of Covid.
The film tells a story from the perspective of Stella. A seventeen year old suffering with Cystic Fibrosis, constantly in and out of hospital for various treatments. Will, a teenage boy who enters the hospital, has the same condition and they appear to have a very flirtatious atmosphere between them. But the issue is, CF patients can never physically interact with each other because of the risks (I genuinely never knew this until I saw the film!) so it turns in to a really emotional story. I found the story so beautiful I even sent copies to a couple of friends, but the film really made me realise how ungrateful I was being for just having a few months where I couldn’t go and hug people. CF sufferers have to worry about this sort of thing quite often. It really puts things in perspective.
2. You are never too old to do something you really want to do.
I know, I know, people say this all the time but how often do we take that seriously? I definitely didn’t. I spent most of my adult life secretly writing ideas for stories and poetry etc but never pursuing anything. On the back end of the year I decided to bite the bullet and enroll on a Comprehensive Creative Writing course. It has really helped me in many ways so far and really increased my confidence with putting some of my work out there. I have also met some great people (through WhatsApp not physically sadly) in a group chat for students and it’s all a mixed variety of ages all trying to do the same thing and it’s a great group to be a part of.
t’s never too late to work at something you’re really passionate about!
3. Short hair is much easier to handle
This one was one of the first things I thought of about 2020 and is not as sentimental at all as the other points in this post, but hey! It’s about things I learned right? And I learned short hair suits me better and is easier to maintain. End of.
4. Walks in nature are good for your mental health.
How many of us have taken more nature walks in the last year then we have our entire lives?!! It’s actually mad to think about but also one big positive I have found to come out of 2020. I suffered from emotional exhaustion back in the early months of lockdown, I got upset and nauseous trapped in four walls. One Saturday I gave myself a kick up the butt and went for a walk in the local woods and my goodness did I feel 10x better! We actually take for granted a lot of the time how beautiful nature actually is. I now try and do nature walks as often as I can, I’m hopeful this isn’t something that will die out once the world goes back to ‘normal’.
5. Sometimes you need a new outlook on your experiences.
Any one who actually knows me very well will probably tell you I am a bit of a negative Nancy! I spent most of my adult life looking at the negative side of things in life and always huffing and puffing like ‘oh that’s just my luck – it never goes my way anyway’, ‘who’s gonna fancy me and wanna stay with me anyway?’ Etc etc. And well, it really didn’t have a good effect on my mental health either (duh!) but I also found that the more I was looking at things so negatively, the more it naturally became more negative. Over the last few months I’ve been reading up a lot about meditation, spirituality and getting in tone with the universe and one of the main things you find they frequently say is that you attract what you give out. I have now started trying to see things in a more ‘logical’ way (easier said then done when you have anxiety) and finding that sometimes there are positive outcomes to even the most negative experiences.
6. It’s surprising the support you can get when you are open with people.
I have started being a lot more open about myself and experiences (you can see examples of this in a lot of my previous posts) and honestly, the support and feedback I’ve had from people has been amazing. I was always worried I’d get judged as an attention seeker or something negative, but I have had good responses from so many people and some things I’ve spoken about others have related to as well, the conversations never would have happened had I not been open enough about things. It’s true what they say: it’s good to talk.
7. Punk Goes Pop is very therapeutic.
Honestly, it will put you in such a good mood. And some punk covers are better than originals. If you haven’t played some punk goes pop full blast at some point in your life, I highly recommend it!
8. Reading is the best escapism.
I used to love reading books and then over the years I really slacked at it because I was ‘too busy’ (scrolling on social media no doubt). During this last year I have really thrown myself back in to the book world and my god, I never want to be without it again. I’ve really under appreciated how good getting lost in a good book is.
9. Small Businesses are amazing
How good was 2020 for small businesses though?! We really learned this year how much sweat and effort goes in to making a small business work and I don’t know about you but I found some amazing gems in the last year from small businesses I never would have looked twice at before the pandemic.
10. I have taken way too much for granted.
One thing I have always been aware of, is that I do come from quite a spoilt background. I grew up never wanting for anything and was very used to getting my own way. But the last year has really taught me just how lucky I am in a lot of ways, not just in relation to money or presents. Even though I bitch about it, I am lucky to still be able to live in my parents house (I will move out soon Mum&Dad I promise!), and various little things we don’t give much second thought to because it’s just what we have.
Other people aren’t always as lucky or fortunate as you are, so it’s important to bear this in mind.
11. Poetry is beautiful
I have loved getting thoroughly back in to poetry again, both reading/discovering and writing it. I still have a lot to learn in all areas of writing but really, nothing tops that feeling of expressing your feelings or emotions into words to form a poem.
12. Appreciate your friends. Always,
Always make sure you remember who stuck by you. Your friends stick with you by choice. Nothing tops a person who chooses to be by your side even when you’re at your worst.
13. Finding my identity was easier said then done, but I got there.
If you have read my ‘Social media life lessons’ post then you’ll know what I’m talking about here. If not, then in a nutshell: I spent a lot of time trying to be someone I was not, for the sake of fitting in and impressing other people. Recently I have allowed myself to take a step back and re-evaluate who I truly am and what I like/don’t like etc.
Nothing is worth trading your personality for.
14. Self-Compassion is important.
People mistake self-compassion as arrogance, but it’s not. I have only recently started reading about self-compassion and have recently purchased the book of that title by Kristin Neff (I haven’t finished it yet though), but self-compassion is all about common humanity and self-kindness. I will most likely to a full blog post about this when I’ve finished the book. But what I will say is I did a test on it from the book and my scores of self-compassion were really low!
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – Ru Paul.
15. How someone acts with you is a reflection of THEM and not you.
I spent way too much time caring about how people treated me. I also learned in recent years that me being negative and mean around other people was down to me not being happy within myself. So it’s an important thing to always remember. If someone is mean to you, instead of getting upset just think to yourself that they probably don’t feel very good about themselves, and move on.
16. It is good to be kind.
It is amazing how positive being kind to someone or receiving kindness from someone else can make you feel.
17. Rejection and Failing is okay – at least you are trying.
I don’t really need to put much background description to this. It’s all in the title. If you fail at something or experience rejection, at least you’re trying. It’s a lot better than never trying at all and daydreaming what if’s. Trust me.
18. Online Dating is NOT the way. Anymore.
I don’t want to offend anyone who has met the love of their life on dating apps or who has had luck on there, but from my 5-6 years (at least) of experience on dating apps. They just aren’t what they used to be. In the last year in particular it’s just been an ego boost. Most people (including me on certain occasion) have just used it to cure some boredom. No decent conversations or meet-ups were formed. No-one takes it seriously any more.
I personally would much rather wait until I meet someone in the flesh and can then establish whether I am attracted to them or not. Online is easy to fake. However, with that all being said I have also made a recent decision to take a break from it all in general. I recently got a 2021 writers planner to plan out my writing goals for the year and with all of that and a new writing workshop class I’m going on I do not have time to mentally exhaust myself over a man.
I think the main thing I learnt from it was that you can’t keep pushing for something that isn’t there. And tinder and those kind of platforms are kind of doing just that, you’re on there for the sake of meeting someone (yes, I know with lockdown there was no other way!). I prefer to think that at some point in the future I’ll meet the right guy in a normal setting and it will all go from there. But until then, I’m out.
19. There is always someone worse off than you. But it is okay to feel how you feel.
Yes, we all experience emotions in different ways and some may not be upset by the same things as others. There will ALWAYS be someone who has had a harder time than you, and it’s horrible for them. But we can’t keep feeling like our feelings are invalid just because someone else has more ‘to be sad about’. It’s just about putting across your feelings in the right way, so you don’t make someone else feel like their feelings aren’t genuine. But people think different things about their own self worth. It is okay to feel however you wanna feel about anything. Don’t let other people dictate to you how you should feel.
20. Don’t waste your entire life on what pays your bills.
Now this is different for everyone, some people have jobs they absolutely love and will happily commit all their time to. Others do not. But you need to have the right balance in your work and personal life. Yes, overtime makes you look good and you might be the champion employee of the month but, you need to make sure that you are always giving set time to yourself and your personal life. Especially if you’re working from home and it’s hard to separate the two.
(I am not saying you all need to hand in your notices or tell your boss to naff off, it’s just about making sure you have balance. If you don’t: it can really damage your mental health. And could result in your performance at work being effected. So make sure you always try and have breaks for yourself and make me-time a thing.)
So that was very long, if you read through all of this then I really, REALLY appreciate you. I hope that this entertained you to read like it did me to write.
To everyone : I wish you the best for 2021, let’s hope we can have more fun, see a way out of this pandemic & learn more valuable life lessons.
Hi Zoe, I have just read 20 things you learned in 2020, what an emotional few minutes. So many parallels with my life. The last few months of my diary read a lot like your list of 20. I woke up to writing in February 2020 and decided to do something about it, a bit later in life than you did, I just retired. We are, by coincidence both members of the whatsapp writing group. I can’t wait to read the rest of your website.
They are 20 very good things to have come out of a bad year.
Little changed for me in 2020, as my routine in a countryside village stayed much the same. But I did lose one of my best friends to Covid-19 in May, and that mde it much harder for me to embrace anything positive.
Thaks very much for following my blog.
Best wishes, and good luck with your writing.
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